New air ambulances for Scotland


Scottish Ambulance Service and Gama Aviation sign new agreement

The the Scottish Air
Ambulance Service will operate two new Eurocopter EC145 T2 helicopters, along
with the two King Air 200C aircraft currently operated by the service. Gama
Aviation will operate the aircraft for the Scottish Air Ambulance Service, the
contract runs for seven years and will cost £120 million.

The new EC145 helicopters
will replace the existing EC135 aircraft, the new helicopters being based in
Inverness and Glasgow.
The King Airs will be based in Aberdeen and Glasgow. They will
continue to be supported in Shetland by the medically equipped Super Puma
search and rescue helicopter. The current contingency support arrangement with
Military and Coastguard aircraft will continue.

Health Secretary Nicola
Sturgeon said “The Scottish Ambulance Service Air Ambulance is the only
publicly funded air ambulance service in the UK and this £120 million contract
will deliver a world class, future proof service that has been specifically
designed to benefit patients throughout Scotland.
Sturgeon continued “It is important that patients can rely on the provision of
a safe, responsive and high quality Air Ambulance Service and these new larger
and faster helicopters can do just that.”
“We all recognise the remote and rural nature of Scotland, and the importance of
providing communities with a resilient healthcare system. The air ambulance
service is critical to how we do that,” Sturgeon concluded.

The new helicopters are
being built to order and will come into service in 2014, delivering improved
range to reach all of mainland Scotland,
The Western Isles and Orkney Isles within 60 minutes flying time for life
threatening emergencies.  The EC145T2’s longer range reduces the need to
stop en route for refuelling.

Gama Aviation will deploy
their own personnel to work alongside air ambulance staff in the Service’s
Ambulance Control Centre in Cardonald. This will enhance communications, speed
up the decision making process and improve the management and tasking of
aircraft.  New tracking equipment on all aircraft will result in better
tasking and management.

Pauline Howie,chief executive,
Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “Our air ambulance service is absolutely vital
to the people of Scotland
and the new contract will ensure that we continue to maintain the highest
quality and service standards for our patients, with significant enhancements
to patient care.”

“The contract is being
awarded to Gama Aviation after a rigorous consultation and procurement process
that started in 2009. Our team worked closely with key stakeholders, NHS
clinicians, patients, carers and community groups to develop the contract
specification and key performance indicators.  It will deliver a world
class air ambulance service that is future proofed and designed to specifically
meet the needs of the people of Scotland,”
said Howie.

The new contract will start
on 1 April 2013, with immediate implementation of new resource management and
tasking arrangements in the Ambulance Control Centre.